Picture: 123RF/LEIGH ANNEF
Picture: 123RF/LEIGH ANNEF

Beijing — The US and China have pledged “full co-operation” to fight fentanyl trafficking, a powerful opioid that has killed tens of thousands of Americans, the US said on Thursday.

US President Donald Trump accused Beijing in August of reneging on its promise to crack down on the narcotic, which US officials believe mainly comes from China.

Trump’s accusation came after Beijing designated all analogues of fentanyl as controlled substances on May 1 — a move seen as a gesture to Washington amid the US-China trade war.

But Jim Carroll, the director of National Drug Control Policy, said after meeting Chinese officials in Beijing this week that he was “absolutely convinced” that President Xi Jinping was “committed” to combating opioid traffickers.

“We are not here to assign blame to anyone. We came here to build a relationship, to build trust and to understand exactly the steps that China has taken,” the White House official told reporters in the Chinese capital on Thursday.

Carroll, US chief postal inspector Gary Barksdale and acting commissioner of US customs and border protection Mark Morgan met Chinese public security Minister Zhao Kezhi on Wednesday.

“We intend to help them, we intend to be a partner with them to share resources, share information, and share intelligence,” Carroll said.

“The government of China and the US yesterday pledged to exchange full co-operation, full resources to be able to combat this together,” he said, hailing the visit as “groundbreaking”.

US and Chinese officials will now have “routine conversations” and the Americans will share more specific case data to help their counterparts in China “better target” drug traffickers, he said.

Information will also be shared with higher level officials.

Morgan said the US has developed a new technique that can identify the country of origin of a synthetic drug by analysing its pollen content, and such information could be shared with China.

Trump's tweet accusing China of inaction in August irked Beijing, with Liu Yuejin, the vice-commissioner of China's national narcotics control commission, saying the remarks were “groundless”.

Liu said earlier in September that no case of fentanyl smuggling had been reported since the May 1 ban.

He said people were still dying of fentanyl overdoses in the US, suggesting it was coming from elsewhere.

The opioid caused 32,000 overdose deaths in the country in 2018 alone.

AFP